Night Waking by Sarah Moss (2011)

Anna is spending the summer on an uninhabited island in Scotland with her husband, Giles, and their two children, Raph, 8, and Moth, a toddler. While Giles is out counting the decline of the sea bird population, Anna is left to take care of the children, while trying to write her already delayed book. Anna is a history fellow at Oxford and is not used to spending most of the day taking care of her children. While planting apple trees one day, Raph discovers a baby skeleton in the ground.

When the police believes that the baby has been buried in recent times, Anna starts reading up on the island’s history. Giles’ family has owned the island for centuries, is the baby related to Giles? The history of the island is really bleak and tragic, the people lived off sea birds and eggs, and most babies died of tetanus just after birth in the 1800s.

I loved this book as much as I loved Cold Earth, but I’m glad this wasn’t as scary. It did certainly have its scary moments as Anna and the children feel the presence of something in the house. But what freaked me out more was that I chose (unconsciously) to read this book just after reading about St Kilda (see last post), which is the inspiration behind this book.

And finally, this book is a great contraceptive.


Cold Earth by Sarah Moss (2009)

Six archaeologists are on Greenland trying to solve the mystery of why the Vikings disappeared from the island. An outbreak of a pandemic disease is spreading panic at the time of their departure to Greenland. As the dig is starting to uncover bodies, Nina is having nightmares about dead Greenlanders in the camp. And then the rest of the archaeologists are sensing them too.

This book frightened me. Isolated camp, ghosts and a pandemic. I couldn’t put it away and even when I did for a few minutes, it was always in my mind. And even now when I have finished it and the daylight is back, I still have a nervous feeling. Or more like an Arctic chill. I’m really glad I was attracted to the shiny cover at the airport in Trondheim.

I really liked the letter as a writing style, mainly because it took a long time before I realised it was written as letters. And this one of the few books where I’m satisfied that you never get all the facts, you have to guess what happened. What really happened to the Greenlanders, anyway?

Dear Hollywood; please make a brilliant film out of this book.